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The Convention elected Washington their President, and for four months sat every day with closed doors. It was a short gestation for so marvellous a product. The danger was that the sticklers for State Sovereignty would refuse as before to create a General Government that might control or hamper the independence of the various States. The influence of Washington, the wisdom of the political leaders, and, beyond doubt, the pressure of popular opinion removed this stumbling block; and the result was a piece of political mechanism such as had never issued from the hand of man. Profound thinkers in their philosophic reveries have conjured up a political phenomenon like the American Constitution, but never yet had it taken shape or become a reality in the history of mankind.
Before calling attention to its striking merits and pointing out its marked originality, I will briefly state that it remedied the glaring defects of the old Confederation by giving to the new Federal Government the right to collect revenue for national purposes, and the right to regulate commerce by imposing uniform duties for all the States. The coercive power, which Washington remarked the State Governments possessed in order to maintain their authority, was also conferred on the new Central Government, so that it might, if needs were, compel a contumacious State to live in harmony with its brethren.
These were important concessions to the augmented spirit of union, but an object of far higher value than these was secured. The last Union was only an Union of the States-independent and sovereign States; a League of the various State Governments, and nothing more. This was just the crying fault of the recent Confederation;
whereas now the purpose was to create an Union, not of the States, but of the people of the States. The new Constitution began, "We, the people of the United States," whilst the late Confederation was signed by its framers "as Delegates of the States." A protest was made by Patrick Henry, and those of his political creed, against this innovation. "Who authorized them, the Members of the Federal Convention," he demanded, "to speak the language of, We, the people,' instead of 'We, the States'? If the States be not the agents of this compact, it must be one great consolidated national government of the people of all the States."
This interpretation was true. Yet how strange that such men as Patrick Henry, Jefferson, and other good patriots should still cling to State Sovereignty, when it had been so clearly demonstrated that unless the States gave up enough of their independence to constitute a National Government invested with a coercive power, they would surely drift into collision ending in anarchy.
The majority of the framers of the new Constitution knew that the people of all the States comprehended the perils of their position, and demanded such a reform of the General Government as would secure order and protect their common interests, whilst it left the authority of the States unrestricted within their own borders. In deference to popular sentiment the minority of crotchety Politicians, both in the Federal and State. Conventions, gradually abandoned their opposition and the new Constitution was adopted.
THE NEW CONSTITUTION.
THE National Government established by this instrument was fashioned after the various State Governments, which consisted of an Executive, and a Legislature divided into two branches - a political organization which had been imported, as shown, by the Colonists from the Mother-country, where an Executive, and a Legislature in two branches, had long existed under the style and title of King, Lords, and Commons.
This theory of dividing the Supreme Power between an Executive, and a Legislature representing the Upper and Lower Classes, grew out of the history of England, as heretofore described. It is the only theory on which durable Government can be based in modern times. In the ancient world no such Government was possible, for though the Executive or Monarch, and the Upper Class or Aristocracy existed, yet the Lower Class or People had no legal being. It was not until the House of Commons rose in England that the People were politically born.
These three ingredients of all society are eternal. In the ancient, as in the modern world, we find in all communities the Monos,* the natural Monarch,
*The familiar Greek words Monos meaning- single or alone; Aristoi, the plural of Aristos, signifying-the best; and Demos expressing --the mass, are used in the text as best adapted to explain my meaning. From a compound of Monos with Archo-I rule, is derived the English word, Monarchy; and from compounds of Aristos and Demos with Krateo--I govern, we have the English words, Aristocracy and Democracy.
the dominant intellect, the "one man-power," as familiarly styled in the United States. Next in universality come the Aristoi, the natural Aristocracy, the governing intellects, the class of higher intelligences. Finally, follow the Demos, the Democracy, the mass, the sovereignty of number.
As just stated; this third element was not known in Government till events in English history gave it a voice over its own destiny. We saw in the ancient Asiatic, African, and European civilizations, that the masses were regarded simply as "hewers of wood, and drawers of water"; and in this condition they continued down to the thirteenth century, 1265 of our era, without rights, power, or security."
The Rebellion of the American Colonies transferred the Supreme Power from the English Government to the Mass. At this juncture arose the Monos, the natural Monarch, in the person of Washington; at the same moment appeared the Aristoi, the intellectual Aristocracy, in the form of a Congress; and both conceded its just share in the Government to the Demos, or Mass. The ignorance of the Mass had up to this time always entailed upon them the loss of their part in the Supreme Power.
It was these three elements combined that carried the Revolution to victory, in spite of the clumsy structure of the "Articles of Confederation," which assigned no constitutional sphere of action to the Monarchical and Democratic elements. The Congress. of that day simply represented the Aristocratic class of the Colonies, the leading intellects. Such a Body long governed the various so-called Italian Republics of the Middle Ages, but could not permanently survive amid
a Democracy so enlightened as that of the American Colonies.
Down to this period history presented but two forms of Government—that of Monarchy, where the Supreme Power was wielded by a single ruler; or that of Aristocracy, where the Supreme Power was vested in the hands of a few. Under either of these original forms, if beneficently administered, the welfare of the governed would be secured.
The experience of ages, however, has proved that unlimited power in the hands of either a single man, or a group of men, is sure to be abused; such is the inherent weakness of human nature. The Plantagenet Kings of England obeying these natural instincts, tyrannized just as other Monarchs of all ages had done, but by the combination of circumstances already described their despotism was curbed, and the political advent of the People was the result. Since that day these three constituent elements-the Monos, the Aristoi, and the Demos-have not only co-existed in England, but have struggled with each other for the possession of the Supreme Power.
It is renown enough for England to have given a legal birth-right to the People by associating her Commons in the Government with the Aristocracy and Monarchy. If she has not yet succeeded in providing by skilful machinery against the rival pretensions of these naturally antagonistic elements, she is, nevertheless, entitled to the gratitude of the masses throughout the world.
* It was shown in the chapters on England how the Democracy in alliance with the Aristocracy-and this never occurred before-raise its head in the reign of John, and, later, obtained a legal sphere action of its own in the House of Commons.